Thursday, July 31, 2008

Puts a damper on things

Rain that is . . . .

Between trying to get my house painted (and battling the weather - so much frigg'in rain here in Ottawa this summer!) and trying to recover from this viral infection in my lungs . . . . well, it's been a bit frustrating to say the least. Today for example, it rained last night and everything is wet, not to mention the humidity in the air - certainly not ideal for painting. Will have to wait 'til maybe the afternoon to get a start on it. Such is life.

On a positive note, I did get out for my first "training" ride since the BC race. Did a tough Gat loop and focused on the hills - a mix of interval work of holding power & speed. My comments the other day about not riding as fast or as hard when you are by yourself didn't hold true yesterday. It was tough. I was still hacking up a lung, lots of 'chunks' were flying and I wasn't getting a full breath, it was the best I've felt on the bike since the beginning of the month. Hopefully things will keep improving.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mock Grand Prix

Yesterday's Big Ring Racing Invitational Mock Grand Prix road race (also known as: 100% Big Time All American Super Happy Race Gathering) was a huge success. We had anywhere between 20-30 riders show up. Peter did an excellent job at organizing the event - which was a laid back/fun race approach. Prizes for first and last place were a nice touch too. Some Big Ring Racing schwag was handed out at the end of the race to promote the team's fantastic sponsors.

This was my first taste of semi-road racing and very much an enjoyable one at that. A lot owed to the fact that this was a 'fun' event and everyone involved were super laid back and had fun first, racing second. No egos showed up to race - just friendly faces and lots of laughs.

It was a suffer-fest for me, but I'd love to do more of this type of riding on a regular basis, as pushing yourself this hard can only be good for you (I find when I do road rides on my own I never push myself as hard as when riding with others - it's easy to be lazy when no one is watching you!) Next year I hope to show up with a clean set of lungs.

I personally learned a lot from my first road race -
  • Lesson One: I may have made the mistake of posting my race tactics online, as many competitors knew exactly where I was going to strike and made their moves first. Next time no online posting and will do all my race prep and practice at night under the cloak of darkness and in disguise . . .

This should do nicely and won't attract any unwanted attention.
  • Lesson Two: draft way more . . . why work hard when someone else can do it for you.
  • Lesson Three: sabotage the competition, for example throw sticks into their spokes
  • Lesson Four: start taking EPO at least a week before, I don't think that I got the full affects from the one syringe.

Lance even says, "Take at least seven days before. Count my fingers . . . I said seven."

  • Lesson Five: be more aggressive with the SMACK talk before the race, for example, more threatening tones and perhaps a nudie of me riding the road bike. **Note-to-self: Though I can't be sure if my 'smack' posts encouraged more riders to show up to put me in my place, sparked the curiosity of some, or scared them away.**

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Smack Down

Spent all of today in preparation of tomorrow's Big Ring Racing Invitational Mock Grand Prix Event (also known as: 100% Big Time All American Super Happy Race Gathering) - which I am going to win.

Washed and waxed the bike, including each and every spoke - everyone knows that waxed spokes make you go 4% faster. Washed, pressed and folded my race kit so it's easy to get into first thing in the morning after my rub down. Been carb loading all day.

Shaved my legs.

Took my EPO.

Dr. Ferrari was no where to be found, so I worked myself through it
while watching a stage of The Tour. Apparently there is no mandatory drug test tomorrow, so as long as the powers-to-be don't read my blog I'm clean. I hope this doesn't happen.
(* I wasn't really taking EPO, I was just shooting heroine.)

To be honest, I'll probably be the only one to line up at the start after everyone reads this. Lenny will probably show up to collect the slowest rider award,
as he's been predicting all week long.

Be afraid comrades!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Mock Smack
(clicky clicky)

Ill'n, meds, pimply

For the past three weeks, and since the BC race, I've been sick. My lungs have been filled up with all sorts of gunkage and I cannot breath properly. I saw a doctor, at a clinic here in town, who put me on a puffer and antibiotics. Two weeks later and still no improvement. Yesterday I got in to see my family doctor and apparently I was misdiagnosed and should never have been on the meds. In fact, the puffer was doing more harm than good. Lovely. Just what a cyclist wants, his/her lungs to be put at risk.

I had originally gone to see my family doctor yesterday because I developed a strange rash along my neck, shoulders and chest over the past few days. I thought I was having a reaction to the meds. I like to self-diagnose myself from time to time. Unfortunately, I am usually (99%) wrong . . . . like the time I thought I was coming down with leprosy, when in fact it was just a hangnail . . . . or the time I thought I had scarlet fever, when I actually had a sunburn.

I digress . . . . it was indeed not a reaction to the medicine (which, again, I should not have been taking), but a heat rash. Anyone ever have one before? Fugly! Tiny little dot, pimple like things covering the affected area. Your skin becomes like bubble wrap - once you start popping those little suckers it's hard to stop.

So, what's wrong with me? A viral infection of my lungs that no meds are going to fix. It's a matter of time and rest.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Fritz is probably smiling right now. I've finally bit the bullet and ordered a set of Arch's and all the fix'ins to get set up on a tubeless wheelset. I had four or five flats while racing out in BC - unacceptable - not to mention an all time number of flats this past season. I've tried running the air pressure higher, which works a bit, but then I get bounced about a little too much. I'm looking forward to running lower air pressure on the hardtail.

Speaking of which . . . . this should be arriving later this week or early next week. Beauty!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Your invited to my house

Bring tools.

This is what I did all day today.

Cause I'm prep'ing the house to be painted.
Scrape, wire brush, re-cahulk, clean foundation, wash down house, prime bare spots, etc.
Work was getting in the way of riding, now home ownership is.
It's taking a long time to begin feeling better from this lung/breathing thing that's going on. Brian paced me yesterday morning in the Gats and it felt like someone was still standing on my chest, puffing and panting half breaths. In between breaths I was hacking and coughing, bringing up lots of funky looking stuff. Tell me . . . is it good or bad when phlegm turns colour from green to brown?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Active Release Technique Therapy

A.R.T. When I first heard about this, I thought it was just a new fad in massage therapy - a way of sucking in people, kind of like it's fitness cousin of workout fads: the weighted hula hoop, stripercise (I tried it for a month but kept breaking the pole), the body blade, and tae bo.


This massage therapy technique really works, or at least for me it has. I went last fall when I was having issues with my IT band and quad muscle group - it was tight and sore. Two sessions was enough for me. It relieved the pain and inflexibility. I recently went back this past week to have some work done on my hamstring - I've had a knot and tightness in it since the Mt. St. Marie training weekend. Sarah, at Montgomery Massage Therapy, spent about a half hour on Monday and another half hour yesterday working on it. It's gold now. Gold I tells ya'.

ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massag technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.

How do overuse conditions occur?
Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
  • acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
  • accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
  • not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia).
Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

What is an ART treatment like?
Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.

These treatment protocols - over 500 specific moves - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wookie? No . . . Loogie

Hawk a wookie?
No, not wookie . . . . . . loogie.

Though it feels like something big and hairy has been living in my lungs for the past two weeks.
During the last stage of the BC Bike Race, I commented to Curvy Butt that I was starting to feel sick, like flue sick. He brushed me off in the unloving way he usually does when I tell him something is wrong (I'm a wee bit of a hypochondriac), so feeling unheard and unloved, I popped some Tylenol and ibprophin and got on with the race and felt okay for the rest of it.

That night at the award ceremony, on top of Whistler, I was starting to feel worse and worse - post nasal drip, sore throat, coughing, sniffing, blah, blah, blah.
Got pretty sick for three or four days and then seemed like it was getting better.

But the last week or so I've started to get worse - my lungs are super tight, hard to get a breath, coughing up all sorts of interesting crap - thick enough to hold together a birch bark canoe. Finally went to see the doctor today and I've got a bad case of bronchitis. On antibiotics and a puffer for the next two weeks or so. Good news is that I can still ride, but have to take it easy. Yay!

Mmmm . . . . green, thick phlegm goodness.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Naked Bike Gear Review: Vassago Jabberwocky ("The Burt")

Other than a quick ten or fifteen minute boot around my neighborhood, bunny hoping some curbs and rolling in and out of ditches, my first ride on my Vassago Jabberwocky was an 8 hr race back in May. Probably not the best decision to do a shakedown ride on a new bike in a race situation, let alone an 8 hr race. However, my Jabber stood the test and handled wickedly-ly.

Price – very affordable steel frame 29"er. I believe that you can buy yourself a frame for about $430 USD. Your eyes may burn from my photos, but your wallet won't. How many other frames are you going to be able to buy and leave yourself enough money leftover to bling-bling it up?

Weight – damn descent for a steel 29” bike. Compared to my 26” Surly 1x1, it was pretty much the same weight (approx. 4.9 lbs).

Frame material – 4130, stiff, with a little flex – just the right amount. Steel absorbs all the small stuff. After riding the Jabber, then riding my Niner MCR frame with Reynolds tubing, it (the Niner) felt a little like spaghetti.

• Balance - Vassago's Wet Cat Geometry builds a longer, lower bike to help put the center of gravity more between the wheels than on top - this is one of the things that I noticed immediately climbing and descending – a very comfortable riding position. Despite being a tad longer bike, it handles the tight and twisty extremely well. Up here in Ottawa, our single track trails are built on the true, north, strong and free Canadian shield - rocky, rooty and pretty technical trails. The Jabber doesn't hesitate to take corners or respond to body English. There is also plenty of standover height, so when I mess up on a slow technical section, my family jewels don’t pay for it (and that, my friends, could leave a mark if you're naked!).

Climbing – I was slightly worried about the rear end spinning out on climbs due to it's length, but I haven’t found it an issue. The front end doesn’t want to leave the ground; it's weighted very well. I'm presently running a 110mm stem with 5 degree rise with a 25' low rise carbon bar. I plan on experimenting in the near future and swapping to a 100mm stem with a zero degree rise and a 27' low rise bar (for more torque on the climbs). An addition of my, still to arrive, Ergon grips will make the cockpit perfect.

- this bike tracks and stays on course, the only thing swaying side-to-side is my tackle

Descending - the head tube angle is more slack than my other XC bike, so I found it a bit raked out at first. However, once I got used to the steering it worked like a point & shoot camera – steer where you want to go, let the bike plow through it all and let the big wheels take care of the rest. The more I rode it the more confident I became on it. Big Wagon Wheels love to roll over everything. None believers (a.k.a. those still on 26” wheeled bikes) just don’t get it . . . . once you try it you'll love it and won't ever want to go back.

- my lilly white bum, pure as the driven snow . . . . just like me

Paint – Kris, at Vassago, had this frame (originally mine was snuffleupagus orange) powder coated for me since they had no black in stock. The powder coat is very durable and holds up to dings and scratches. If you don't like black (doesn't everybody like black?), the frame also comes in Snuffleupagus Orange or Bone White.

Due to Vassago going to great lengths to please it's customer, and the frame getting a custom powder coat job over it's original colour, it didn’t receive the clear coated head badge and “Jabberwocky” name across the top tube. This might leave a lesser bike searching for it's identity. This is where the name, “The Burt” comes into play and hence the black & gold colour scheme. I have been looking for a gold Pontiac Firebird logo to go on the head badge. Clicky clicky. Anyone willing to help out a head badgeless bike?

- boxed guessetted head tube adds strength and rigidity to the front of the bike
- hydro-style cable guides keep it looking clean and runs across the top tube,
making it handy when you have to shoulder or pick the bike up

notice no headbadge?

If you're a hillbilly redneck who's still stuck in the 80's and have access Trans Am decals, please give me a shout.

- so simple and tidy

Weakness: (only one!)
• axle tensioner screws should be thumb screws or hex bolt instead of the allen screw

- I change my rear cog around quite a bit, so thumb screws would be easier for me


Monday, July 14, 2008

Last of the BC Photos

They've finally posted up all the photos that the official photographer took during the race on the BC site. Here's the link (clicky, clicky). I've been sick ever since the race and have had a little bit of time to kill, so I scrolled through most of them and found some to post up.

Day Zero

Dinner at Shawnigan Lake private school - 400 racers stuff their faces

Day One

aerial view of stage one start from Shawnigan Lake School

Bill and Jenny at the finish line after stage one in Lake Cowichan

stage one single track

stage one finish line - Lake Cowichan

tents set up in ball field

Day Two

Start of stage two - this was a controlled 10 km start which I was very thankful for because my legs were
fried from all the cramping I had the day before during stage one


Mark on a climb in the only little bit of single track that we hit on day two

Peter & Anthony grab their bags and make their way to the tents after stage two in Port Alberni

Kari and Tanya post stage two - long, dry, dusty stage (125 km of logging/fire roads)

Day Three

single track leading around a lake close to the finish in Cumberland

Curvy Butt

Day Four

we were woken up at 4:30am to make this ferry crossing

every morning this guy and this thing woke us up the same way

aerial view of the start of stage four - Earl's Cove

day four had some nice single track

beauty views

Day Five

we were flying day five . . . right up to the point where we took the wrong trail (along with another 20 or so riders) and lost a tonne of time. We made up for it on the last 13 km or so of killer single track

Day Six

Squamish start

photo of the volunteers - they were awesome and made this event happen. I don't know how they pulled off the level of enthusiasm for the whole seven days.

home while in Squamish, with the mountains as a backdrop

we killed it on stage six, by far our best stage of the race - so much wicked, gnarly single track that we just ate up.

Day Seven

start of stage seven - you can see the bottom of the hill that we'd end up climbing for nearly an
hour right off the gun at the start.

stuffing my face on stage seven


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Congratulations Warren!

I've been meaning to get this up this week . . . . cause if my buddies are fast on the bike, that makes me fast too, right?!?

My good friend Warren won the Master A Time Trial 30 - 39 yr olds, at the Canadian Nationals last Friday. He won 1st place by 26 seconds, and third was 46 seconds back. It was a technical 20 km time trial course which he put down a time of 27:49.58 That's smok'in fast! Ever since moving from mtn bike to road, he's become a freak'ishly fast road machine. Way to go Warren!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I forgot to mention our placing in the mens open division. 95 riders, we came 43rd. Not bad considering the company we were pedaling in - some pros, many semi pros and a lot of very fast riders from around the country and world.

Miscellaneous thoughts on the race:
  • I've been sick since Friday - managed to keep the symptoms at bay until Friday night after the awards ceremony. This cold/clue really started to kick my ass on Sunday and have felt like crap ever since. No surprise after having the body worn down hard for seven days
  • I rode Kenda Small Block 8's for the first four stages, then switched up to Kenda Karmas 2.1 for the remainder. The SB8's were fantastic and rolled very fast over everything, but I was thankful for the Karmas breaking power in the later stages as the single track got pretty hairy at times.
  • my cramping issues on day one really messed my legs up for the next few stages. It took a couple of hours after the race before I could even get my shoes on without my legs going into full cramping. My muscles hurt for days afterwards. I wonder how I would have done throughout the race if it hadn't happened
  • we lost approximately 30 minutes to mechanicals on day three or four, then about 45 minutes on day five going down the wrong trail and bonking . . . . you could play "what if" all day, it's all apart of racing and it's just how the cards played out for us; live and learn
  • I think Curvy Butt and I were a perfect balance, though I'd bet money that he led me around the trails for seven days more than I led him. He ripped it up in the single track and just following him around I was able to pick my lines and keep my speed up. He also showed me where not to fall - I've never seen someone crash like Mark - he falls and never gets hurt. We had a blast and laughed our heads off all race. I couldn't have asked for a better partner!
  • I've never been around so many people who's body fat was so low - I was probably one of the biggest/heaviest guys there . . . . and probably one of the most handsome, most ripped (even more than Peter) and most modest too
  • each day, after racing, was a routine: fuel the body, drink, unpack & set up camp, stretch, go eat supper, drink, stretch, get the gear and bike ready for the next day, drink, stretch, go to bed.
  • we had only one night of rain & it didn't rain once while we raced - couldn't have been more perfect
  • coke, pretzels and cookies after each stage were very welcomed
  • be sure to wipe your hands free of bananas after an aid station, holding onto your grips becomes near impossible
  • riding a 1x9 is all you need - at times I wished for a granny, but I got by without it. Did walk a few times, but didn't hurt my time any.
Some more photos . . . you can see the rest in my Flickr account

Dirty, dirty race clothes. With the warm, dry conditions came dusty, dirty gear.

View from the tent. You can see the start bear - I think that this was day three.

Whistler gondola ride up to the restaurant at the top of the mountain after stage seven for the awards ceremony and banquet. Saw two bear under the gondola on the way up.

Dinner with Team Go Banana & Go Orange on Day Zero at a private school in Shawnigan Lake. This place was unreal! Can't imagine what it must have been like going to a school like this growing up.
*there were approx. 14-15 riders from Ottawa at the BC Bike Race. Represent yo!

Tanya had some issues after day five with her cassette. Her solution was this homemade hammer (a pedal locked into an adjustable wrench) . . . .what are you thinking?!

If you're going to fix a cassette, you need a rock! "Grug (a.k.a. Curvy Butt) fix bike good. Grug smash bike with rock. Rock good."
McGuyver actually did fix the issue Tanya was having.

Another ferry crossing. Note the ferry who jumped into my picture?

Breakfast - eat as much as humanly possible at each sitting before your stomach told you otherwise.

Saturday, day eight, no racing. We were the very last ones to tear down our bikes and box 'em up at the Westin Hotel in Whistler.

I can't believe we are done.